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Anna Reeves: Communication Matters Award

20/12/2019

It can sometimes be hard to have the time to step back and reflect, and we’re not known for  blowing our own trumpet! However, over the last couple of months there was a unique moment to take stock, not only the work that we do every day but also how far we’ve come as a community and us personally as a charity.

There are few opportunities to recognise achievement and outstanding contribution in the field of AAC and Assistive Technology. As a field we know very well that speech disability and changing communication needs can sometimes be overlooked and access to the latest research, skills and technology can be limited.

As a community of professionals and practitioners we diligently work within the health, care and education sectors supporting individuals, families and colleagues in the field. Our ethos is ‘can do’, adapting our services, technology and campaigns to support people in their daily lives.  Which is why having the opportunity to meet together to celebrate our collective achievements is so welcome. This autumn saw the inaugural Communication Matters Awards ceremony, bringing together individuals, groups and companies and celebrating their contribution to the world of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC).

We were delighted to join our colleagues from across the UK supporting each other and raising awareness about best practice, inspirational advocacy and achievements.

And we were hugely honoured to find ourselves as the first recipients of the first award of the first AAC awards evening!

Being named ‘setting of the year’ reflects the hard work, dedication and expertise of each and every member of our team. A setting is so much more than a place, as important as focal point is. It’s an ethos and vision which runs through an organisation. This award marks and celebrates the way we work together using our skills in communication, learning, technology, innovation, care and advice to empower and enable more and more people.  Ace Centre staff members don’t seek this recognition; however I know this is hugely important to all staff who make Ace Centre the success that it is and achieve the impact that we do.

The awards event also marked a personal moment of reflection as I found myself being awarded the Jamie Munro Inspiration Award. Given in memory of Jamie’s longstanding and respected contributions to the field of AAC and Assistive Technology.

What makes this award particularly special is that it is a peer supported award. To be nominated by the then Speaker of the House of Commons, John Bercow MP and to know that my peers had approached him in order to request this nomination is a great privilege.

I follow in the footsteps of Janet Scott and Helen Dixon, both of whom are people I have held in very high regard for many years, so to be the recipient of this award myself is a huge compliment.

I am very proud to be a member of the wider AAC community and to have been able to contribute to its development over the past twenty three years. Along with everyone else who discovers and engages with the field of AAC and Assistive Technology, I believe passionately in the difference it makes to people’s lives.

With recognition comes responsibility… as we take a moment to reflect we also commit ourselves to developing and strengthening our work. I will continue to champion this field at every level; Ace Centre will continue to provide expert, caring and innovation; and together as the wider AAC community we will work with and for all users and families to empower and enable people with complex communication needs to express themselves and meet their full potential.